Recently, “06880” posed a question the Board of Education needed answering: When was kindergarten first offered in the Westport public schools?
Plenty of readers posted answers online, with recollections dating back to 1941.
But that’s not the half of it.
According to Jennifer Robson, administrative assistant to the superintendent, additional sleuthing in the Town Hall vaults showed records of 4- and 5-year-olds being educated as far back as the late 1800s.
In 1916 — the 1st year that record books actually describe children by grade (not just age) — the Bridge Street School (predecessor to the original Saugatuck Elementary School, on [duh] Bridge Street) had a “sub-primary grade,” filled with 4- and 5- year-olds.
By 1918, there were 26 students in what the Bridge Street School actually called “kindergarten.”
Student rosters read like a hit parade of old time Westport names: DeMatttio, Gilbertie, Saponare, Valiante, Tedesco, Cribari, DeFeo, Fiore and Zeoli, among others.
Jennifer says that the other schools in town did not appear to have kindergarten at that point. They also enrolled far fewer students than the Bridge Street School.
“They seemed to run more like country schoolhouses,” Jennifer notes, “with perhaps 30 students total, spread through grades 1-5.”
What are your recollections of your early school days in Westport? Click “Comments” to respond. Let’s limit this one to elementary schools, with no tangents into No Child Left Behind, Obama’s education policy, or anything else please!